Marketisation of Higher Education (HE)

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2018 Higher Education Service Group Conference
19 September 2017

Recent Government policy for HE in England has been dominated by the pursuit of competition, markets and privatisation. This will be compounded by measures in the Higher Education and Research Bill which introduces further competition into the sector and escalates the cost of attending university.

Higher education is a public service providing benefits to the economy and to society. UNISON has long warned about the corrosive growth of profit making institutions within the English higher education sector. They serve to make the sector less democratic, less accountable and less focused on the public values intrinsic to education. This is not a model that we would want to see adopted in any devolved nation in the UK.

UNISON believes that the reputation and achievements of UK higher education has been built on principles of collaboration; education as a public good and a focus on raising excellence. The Government should be focused on enhancing these qualities and enabling more students and learners to participate rather than focus on increased marketisation and competition between institutions. UNISON believes that treating students as consumers buying a product is deeply damaging to the sector.

UNISON believes that excellent teaching, social mobility and student choice will only be achieved if we ensure that teaching and support staff across the sector have decent training working conditions and job security.

UNISON remains committed to the policy of no tuition fees for students entering higher education. A fully funded high quality higher education system that delivers for students and the wider community is a social good.

The current government are instigating a growing marketisation of higher education in England that could undermine quality. Private institutions are not a welcome addition to UK higher education.

Conference calls upon the Higher Education Service Group Executive to:

1)Run a high profile campaign against the abuses of challenger institutions working alongside other trade unions and the National Union of Students (NUS), arguing that these institutions will have a significant impact on the salaries, pensions and other terms and conditions, starting a race to the bottom for staff;

2)Lobby vice chancellors and work with sympathetic vice chancellors and Members of Parliament and find ‘common ground’ on the issue and produce a briefing document for MPs and members of the House of Lords on the impact.